Yellowstone Tourist Jailed for Trespassing on Geyser to Take Photos

Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park.
Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park.

A man was jailed for trespassing near the active Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park while trying to take photos.

According to a release by the National Park Service (NPS), 21-year-old American tourist Viktor Pyshniuk was sentenced to seven days in prison for thermal trespass at Steamboat Geyser in the Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park.

Four people in winter clothing are facing away from the camera, observing the Steamboat Geyser at Yellowstone National Park. Steam is rising from the geyser, and the ground is covered in snow. The sky is partly cloudy, and trees line the background.
Viktor Pyshniuk can be seen in the upper left corner of the photo walking on thermal ground at the Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Four tourists look on from behind a fence on a wooden boardwalk.

Pyshniuk, who is based in Lynwood, Washington, was also placed on two years of unsupervised release, fined $1,500 as well as court fees, and banned from Yellowstone National Park for two years.

According to the NPS, a Yellowstone National Park law enforcement officer witnessed and then photographed Pyshniuk crossing over the fence on the boardwalk near the geyser on April 19. Psyhniuk then walked up the hill within around 15 to 20 feet of Steamboat Geyser’s steam vent.

Pyshniuk told the park’s law enforcement officer that he left the boardwalk to try to take photos. However, the park officer showed him signs saying that it was illegal to stray from the public boardwalk and explained the danger of doing so due to mud pots, heated steam, and water in an unpredictable geothermal area.

‘Significant Penalties’

When Pyshniuk was jailed, Magistrate Judge Stephanie Hambrick said that the sentence imposed was designed to deter him and other members of the public from leaving the boardwalk in the future and disobeying park safety rules.

“Trespassing in closed, thermal areas of Yellowstone National Park is dangerous and harms the natural resource,” Acting United States Attorney Eric Heimann says in a statement.

“In cases like this one where we have strong evidence showing a person has willfully disregarded signs and entered a closed, thermal area, federal prosecutors will seek significant penalties, including jail time.”

The Steamboat Geyser is the world’s tallest active geyser and one of the most prominent features in Yellowstone National Park. It is known to be highly unpredictable and explosive.

The Steamboat Geyser has erratic and unpredictable eruptions that can rise anywhere from six to 300 feet high. According to Yellowstone National Park, more than 20 people have been killed in accidents with some of the park’s 10,000 geysers, hot springs, steam vents, and geothermal pools.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos and center photo via the National Park Service (NPS).